UC Irvine Provost Enrique Lavernia, a noted scholar in chemical engineering and materials science, has been placed on administrative leave pending an external investigation into his academic and research activities, the campus chancellor announced Wednesday.
Chancellor Howard Gillman, in a message to the campus community, said the university was cooperating fully. He did not name the “external authorities” conducting the investigation but said it was related to Lavernia’s scholarly work.
A campus spokesman said a federal agency was conducting the investigation but declined further comment.
Lavernia could not be reached for comment.
Lavernia’s resume cites a long list of achievements and awards. He has published more than 600 journal and 200 conference publications and been awarded 11 patents on topics ranging from nano-materials to aluminum alloys. His research interests include the synthesis and behavior of nanostructured and multi-scale materials.
He was elected into the National Academy of Engineering in 2013 and inducted into the Hispanic Hall of Fame by Great Minds in STEM.
Lavernia began his career with the University of California in 1987 as an assistant professor at UC Irvine. He moved to UC Davis in 2002 to serve in several positions, including provost and dean of the College of Engineering.
He returned to Irvine as a distinguished professor, provost and executive vice chancellor in 2015. As provost, Lavernia oversaw UC Irvine’s teaching and research enterprise, which includes 16 schools, nearly 5,500 faculty and more than 190 degree programs.
He earned a Ph.D. in materials engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Gillman, in consultation with the Academic Senate, has appointed as interim provost Hal Stern, who currently serves as vice provost of academic planning. Stern, a professor of statistics, will oversee the transition to remote learning and social-distancing operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gillman said.
He said the campus would provide additional information “as appropriate.”